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Christmas in India
Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

By Sudha Mathew

In India’s rich and diverse culture, festivity sets the mood of every season. Not only does it brightens up the spirit, but also adds colours to the mundane routine of daily life. When the air gets chilly and dry unlike the tropical heat around the year, India’s brief winter has set in. The wintry spell is brightened by the spirit of Christmas.  Snow may not be found heaped on the roads, but the Christmas cheer is widespread.

Christmas in India
Christmas decor in Goa

The celebration is as varied as India herself. Being a Christian religious affair, Christmas in India is celebrated largely in the Christian dominated pockets of the country with Goa being the foremost among them. There are several churches present in this Indian state that flaunt the Portuguese style of design. People flood in to these heritage chirches to witness the Midnght Mass on the eve of Christmas. Carols are sung in usinson by choir and congregation alike. The churches are illuminated with different kinds of lights and lamps. Chains of lights, streamers, balloons are hung along the streets. One can come across musicians strumming their guitar and singing all the way. Santa may not be riding the “one horse open sleigh”, but people dress up like him and distribute gifts among kids. The bells on the bobtails may not jingle, but the bells in churches chime joy into the air.

The states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu also have a significant population of people following Christianity. A glimpse of Christmas in India is also found in these areas. Mumbai, the financial capital of India, has 8 of the most popular churches with Midnight Mass. Before the Mass, Priests bring out an image of Infant Jesus followed by children holding candles. Though the region of Bandra is predominantly catholic, the celebration, akin that of India, is widespread in the city.

Christmas in India, Kolkata
City of Joy in Christmas

Most churches and many Christian houses build nativity cribs. Cribs are miniature versions of the stable at Bethlehem where Christ was supposedly born. Small dolls are made or bought to depict the scene of birth. The young in age and the young at heart are usually the ones most enthusiastic about this painstaking labour of love.  Most churches have special Christmas programs and activities. ‘Gloria in exelcis Deo’ can be heard sung by cheerful voices.

In the northern and eastern parts of the country, though less populated by Christians, the joyous celebration remains the same. The day is celebrated as “badaa din”. People bring home artificial pine trees. Decorating them with sparkles, bells, streamers are a fun activity among the kids on Christmas eve. The markets are deluged with colours, star shaped paper lanterns, balloons, Santa caps, Santa costumes and much more. The hustle at the shops also steps up the festive mood. The tradition of keeping a stocking hanging is not common but does prevail in some families.

On the 25th day of December, which is declared a national holiday, people visit friends and relatives. Sharing joy and gifts is a custom in India. Parents become their kids’ secret Santa. Children also buy gifts of their pocket money given by vsiisting family. Many people also visit old age homes and the orphanages with food, clothes and other basic amenities. Schools and social welfare organisations run drives to collect used items and other stuffs for distribution among the less fortunate people.

Christmas in India, Mumbai
Carnival time in Mumbai

A major part in the celebration of any festival of India is played by food. A platter of delicacies are prepared in every house, the cuisine varies from state to state. Christmas in India is filled with the aroma of such delicacies tantalizing the taste buds of one and all. Turkey is often replaced by chicken and a plethora of various kinds of sweetmeats are made. The dining tables are set with candles, scented flowers. The houses are lit up by lanterns and oil lamps.

An important ingredient of the Christmas flavour is the cake. Ovens in houses, bakeries and the confectioneries, everyone is busy making plum cake or fruit cake. Families place orders with their favourite baker months in advance. In India, Christmas is not complete without the traditional fruit cake, also called plum cake.

Statues of Santa, unlike the snowman in the western countries, are sometimes found in the gardens of the houses. The tradition of elaborate Christmas lunch in the West is performed with utmost enthusiasm here also, but in Indian style. So instead of turkey, it might be a special chicken curry. Kulkuls and rose cookies are still made at home in Bangalore and Tamil Nadu. Kerala ho,es may have a chicken roast and beef fry on the table. And Goa will have its special sweets like neureos, kokads, bolinhas and walnut drops. In today’s time, Christmas is also a social event so clubs and restaurants are crowded with people celebrating Christmas too.

Christmas in India, Bangalore
Silicon city decked up for Christmas

The cities turn white, red and green in the form of bells, pine trees, Santa caps, fake snow, star lanterns and others. There are people who often plan out trips to places during this period. Christmas in India is not celebrated for a day. The celebration continues till the last day of the year. Be it the Park Street of Kolkata, the beaches of Goa, the coast of Kerala or even the Chowks of Delhi, the exuberance is felt everywhere, irrespective of all.

This robust celebration dates back to the era when India was a British colony. The British tradition that was in vogue then, still prevails over areas of the country. But the present secular country does not thrive on the regional and religious dogma. Indians enjoy the festival for the sheer festivity that is associated. Merriment and unabashed joy are what marks Christmas in India.

For unique and speciality accommodation in Goa and Kerala to enjoy this season, browse through these gorgeous homestays, luxury villas and boutique resorts.

Christmas in India. Delhi
Merry making in the Capital

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How does your city celebrates this occasion of merry making? 

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Cheers

Sudha

Picture Courtesy:

Defence Forum


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Posted by Sudha at 2:45 pm
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Plan to travel to an Indian holiday destination?

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About me

The wise man travels to discover himself - JR Lowell

 

My name is Sudha Mathew. I'm an ex-banker who quit the rat race after a decade to follow my passion for travel and to combine it with my experience in understanding client requirements and exceeding their expectations.

 

While our content is mostly about the holiday experience, the accommodation and services, there's so much more to a journey. I have discovered a whole new me through travel. So I've reserved this corner of the website to share the unexpected aspects of travel. This space is also to hear from you about your journeys and discoveries. Bon Voyage!

 
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